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Managing Printers Using Print Management (part 2) - Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode

1/12/2012 6:13:56 PM

4. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode

Administrators can use Print Management to configure the Driver Isolation mode for each printer driver installed on a print server. There are several scenarios in which doing this might be useful to increase print server reliability. For example, if a print queue associated with a particular driver keeps crashing, the administrator can change the Driver Isolation mode for the driver to Isolated so that the driver runs within its own separate process. That way, other print queues on the server won't be affected when the driver crashes. The administrator can then contact the vendor to request an updated driver for the printer.

Another example might be when a vendor supplies the administrator with a printer driver whose quality is unknown. In this case, the best practice is to assign the driver to an isolated process and then collect and analyze crash statistics for the print queue associated with the driver over a period of time. Once the driver is determined to be sufficiently stable, the administrator can move the driver to the shared process.

4.1. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode Using the Print Management Console

You can configure the Printer Driver Isolation mode for a printer driver from under the All Drivers node, a custom driver filter node, or the Drivers node for a print server. To configure the Driver Isolation mode for a printer driver, right-click the driver and select Set Driver Isolation from the context menu (see Figure 2). Doing this displays four choices:

  • None Runs the driver within the spooler process (legacy Isolation mode).

  • Shared Runs the driver within the shared process.

  • Isolated Creates a new isolated process for this driver only.

  • System Default This menu option displays (None) if the DriverIsolation entry in the driver's .inf file is missing or has a value of 0, or it displays (Shared) if the DriverIsolation entry in the driver's .inf file has a value of 2. In other words, None indicates that the driver is not designed to support driver isolation, and Shared indicates that it is designed to support driver isolation.

Note also the new Driver Isolation column in the details pane when drivers are being displayed in Print Management, which is new in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Figure 2. Configuring the Printer Driver Isolation mode for a printer driver



Note:

If you are using the Print Management console on a computer running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 and connect to a print server running a previous version of Windows, the Print Management console will indicate that driver isolation is not supported on that server, and you will not have the option to change modes.


4.2. Configuring Printer Driver Isolation Mode Using Group Policy

You can configure certain aspects of printer driver isolation globally on a Windows Server 2008 R2 print server by using the following two Group Policy settings, which are new in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and apply only to those platforms:

  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Printers\Execute Print Drivers In Isolated Processes

    This policy setting determines whether the print spooler will execute printer drivers in an isolated or separate process. If you enable or do not configure this policy setting, the print spooler will attempt to execute printer drivers in an isolated process. If you disable this policy setting, no driver isolation is attempted, and the print spooler will execute printer drivers in the print spooler process. In other words, adjusting this policy setting to Disable lets you completely disable driver isolation and force everything to run in legacy mode (mode = None). Any other setting allows driver isolation to work as specified by a driver's .inf file and Print Management console settings.

  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Printers\Override Print Driver Compatibility Execution Setting Reported By Print Driver

    This policy setting determines whether the print spooler will override the driver isolation compatibility reported by the printer driver via the DriverIsolation entry in its .inf file. Doing this enables you to execute printer drivers in an isolated process even if the driver does not report compatibility. If you enable this policy setting, the print spooler will attempt to execute the driver in Isolation mode regardless of the DriverIsolation entry in the driver's .inf file. If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, the print spooler will honor the DriverIsolation entry in the driver's .inf file.


Note:

Both of these policy settings apply only to printer drivers loaded by the print spooler; print drivers loaded by applications are not affected. After changing these policy settings, use gpupdate/force and then restart the Print Spooler service to ensure that the new policies take effect.


4.3. Troubleshooting Driver Isolation

Administrators can troubleshoot driver isolation issues using the event logs. By default, Admin logging for the PrintService is enabled in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and you should monitor the Application and System Event Logs for events coming from the print spooler.

To see additional events related to driver isolation activities, you can enable Operational logging as follows:

  1. Open Event Viewer and expand the following:

    Application and Services\Logs\Microsoft\Windows\PrintService.

  2. Right-click Operational and select Enable Log.

After you enable Operational logging, look for Informational Events with an Event ID of 842 and with a Source that is PrintService. This event indicates the Isolation mode that was used to print a particular print job and provides information such as the following.

The print job <x> was sent through the print processor <print processor name> on printer
<printer name>, driver <print driver name>, in the isolation mode <x> (0 - loaded in the
spooler, 1 - loaded in shared sandbox, 2 - loaded in isolated sandbox). Win32 error code
returned by the print processor: 0x0.


5. Exporting and Importing Print Server Configurations

You can export the configuration of all print queues and printer drivers on a print server to a Printer Migration file (*.printerExport), which you then import on either the same print server or a different one. This is useful for administrators who want to back up printer configurations or migrate printers to a different print server. Exporting print queue configuration settings and printer drivers is also a useful method for backing up the configuration of a print server as part of your organization's Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

To export all printer drivers and the configuration of all print queues for a print server, right-click the print server's node in Print Management and select Export Printers To A File. This opens the Printer Migration Wizard, which displays a list of print queues and printer drivers that will be exported. Save the resulting *.printerExport file on a network share so that you can import it again during a disaster recovery scenario or when consolidating print servers.

You can import previously exported print server configurations by using either of the following methods:

  • Right-click the print server's node in Print Management, select Import Printers From A File, and then browse to select a *.printerExport file and import it.

  • Double-click a *.printerExport file while logged on to the print server into which you want to import the configuration information to start the Printer Migration Wizard and import the configuration.


Note:

The PrintBRM command-line tool can also be used in Task Scheduler to perform nightly backups of your print server configurations.


HOW IT WORKS

Printer Export Files

The printer export file has a .printerExport file extension and is essentially a compressed cabinet (.cab) file that contains XML definition files for the drivers, ports, forms, and printers on a computer. It also contains all of the driver files for each printer.

The following files are part of the printer export file:

  • BrmDrivers.xml Printer driver description file. This file contains a list of every driver installed on the computer and the driver files for each driver.

  • BrmForms.xml Forms description file. This file contains a list of all of the installed forms.

  • BrmLMons.xml Port monitor definition file. This file usually contains either Windows NT x86 or Windows x64 as the architecture and a list of port monitors and port monitor files installed on the computer.

  • BrmPorts.xml Printer ports definition file. This file contains a list of all printer ports that have been installed on the computer. This list does not include printer connections.

  • BrmPrinters.xml Printer definition file. This file contains a list of all printers that have been installed on the computer. This list does not include printer connections.

  • BrmSpoolerAttrib.xml Spooler attributes definition file. This file contains information about the spooler directory path and a value that determines whether the source computer was a cluster server.


6. Performing Bulk Actions Using Print Management

You can also use Print Management to perform bulk actions for printers and printer drivers on a print server.

  • You can perform the following bulk actions on printers by selecting several (or all) printers on a print server or as displayed within a printer filter:

    • Pause Printing

    • Resume Printing

    • Cancel All Jobs

    • List In Directory

    • Remove From Directory

    • Delete

  • You can perform the following bulk actions for printer drivers by selecting several (or all) printer drivers for a printer or as displayed within a printer filter, such as the All Drivers default filter:

    • Remove Driver Package

    • Delete

DIRECT FROM THE SOURCE

Managing Print Queues and Servers with the Print Management Console

Frank Olivier, User Experience Program Manager

Windows Client

With Windows 7 client computers and the Windows 7 Print Management console, printer administrators can easily provide users with high printer availability. This can be achieved by moving users from the print queues on one server to identical print queues (for the same physical printers) on another server when the first server is unavailable.

First, use the Print Management console to deploy printers to a number of users using a GPO (such as \\ServerA\ColorPrinter with GPO1), and link GPO1 to an organizational unit (OU) with a number of users or computers.

Then, using the Print Server import/export tool, do a backup of a print server. In the Print Management console, right-click a print server and select Export Printers To A File. All the print queues and printer drivers will be exported to a .printerExport file. Alternatively, you can use the command-line PrintBRM tool (in %WinDir%\System32\spool\tools), either from the command line or from Task Scheduler, to do periodic backups of the print server.

When a print server goes down because of a hardware failure, the administrator can easily move users to a new server. On the new server (Server2), use the Print Management console to import the .printerExport file. New print queues will now be created (such as \\Server2\ColorPrinter if the old server had \\Server1\ColorPrinter).

Using the deploy printers functionality in the Print Management console, deploy the printers using GPO2. With the Group Policy Management tool, disable the link to GPO1. The print queues from Server1 will be undeployed, and the print queues from GPO2 (Server2) will be installed.

When the old print server is online again, the link to GPO2 can be disabled, and the link to GPO1 can be enabled.

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